A simple Chapter 7 typically lasts approximately 100 days from the date the bankruptcy petition is filed until the date the debtor receives a discharge from his or her debts.
Most of the work occurs prior to the case filing when the debtor and his or her attorney gather the financial information needed to make the required disclosures. As soon as the debtor files bankruptcy, all of the most common collection actions are immediately stopped and a Chapter 7 trustee is appointed to administer the case.
Approximately 30 days after the bankruptcy petition is filed, the Chapter 7 trustee will hold a meeting (called the “Meeting of Creditors” even though creditors rarely attend), where the debtor (accompanied by his or her attorney) is questioned by the trustee to determine whether the debtor has any non-exempt property available to satisfy creditors and whether the debtor is entitled to a discharge under the Bankruptcy Code.
After that meeting, assuming there is no basis for objections, the debtor gets his or her discharge approximately 60 days later. If there is property that the debtor cannot exempt from the bankruptcy process, the trustee will sell it and use the proceeds to pay creditors.
While Chapter 7 is the most common chapter of relief under the Bankruptcy Code, it is not always suitable for every person’s situation. If you are attempting to save your home from foreclosure, your car from repossession, have non-exempt property you would like to retain, or have non-dischargeable debts like taxes and domestic support arrearages you would like to address as part of your bankruptcy, then a repayment plan under Chapter 13 is generally a better option.
You may also have no choice but to file a Chapter 13 if it looks likely your Chapter 7 case would be dismissed as an “abusive” filing under the so-called "means test".